In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English. In Letter 12, he discussed why you should embrace the benefits that age brings.
You are young, and life has yet to take its toll on you, to throw disappointments and heartaches and loneliness and struggles and pain into your path. You have not been worn down yet by long hours of thankless work, by the slings and arrows of everyday life.
For this, be thankful. You are at a wonderful stage of life. You have many wonderful stages of life still to come, but they are not without their costs and perils.
I hope to help you along your path by sharing some of the best of what I’ve learned. As with any advice, take it with a grain of salt. What works for me might not work for you.
I’m feeling my age; memories are fading and gone are the days where I can act on impulse. If I do this now it hurts too much. Even tough structures such as my house, which I built myself, are falling to pieces. Despite the fact that this is a well maintained property, it’s still crumbing. This serves to remind me of my mortality and the frailty of life. Young people act and speak in a way which I can’t grasp anymore, and don’t appreciate that they won’t live forever. Speaking of young people I saw someone that I knew as a child today, and he looks like an old man!
To be truthful, I embrace my old age. While you are still healthy and not in terminal decline, then you can look back on what you have achieved in life and take pleasure. The other benefit is that all the misguided desires and impulses you had when you were young have subsided.
And like I said in Letters 4, I’m not afraid of dying. Death is part of life and you die with every moment that passes. Embrace each day as though it is a gift. You should be able to go to sleep thinking that I’ve lived today as well as I could and if I wake-up tomorrow, I’ll be grateful. You don’t need to wait until you’re old to have this attitude.
Life won’t always turn out the way you want. This is just another thing you’ll have to learn to deal with. But instead of letting these things get you down, push on. Accept disappointment and learn to persevere, to pursue your dreams despite pitfalls. Learn to turn negatives into positives, and you’ll do much better in life.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this thought. There isn’t any restriction to living. You have free will and you can choose how to live and how long to live. There is an ever present opportunity to end your life, if you wish. Always be grateful and aware of this fact.